The split into different categories, known as EFA for instructional materials and EFB for library materials, comes off the request made by Gov. Greg Abbott to the TASB.
During the board meeting Aug. 9, Trustee Crystal Carbone pulled the item from the consent agenda and expressed concerns specifically regarding books that children could check out from district libraries.
“There are books that I would like to see removed, and I’d like to see a policy in which we don’t have a road that we go down where we have to have this conversation again,” Carbone said.
Carbone said she wishes to hear from PISD staff about the safeguards the district has to communicate with parents on the books their children are checking out, specifically if they may contain any material the parents might not want their children to read.
PISD staff is set to follow up with the board at a later meeting to give an update on the resources the district has as well as possible other options, including consent forms for parents to alert them about adult-level content at the school libraries and giving the parents the option to opt their children out of that content.
Additionally, the board made an additional change to the policy approved, which included inserting specific language into the process if someone raises a complaint about a specific book.
If the district receives a complaint about a book, the librarian reports it to the principal of the school, and within 10 days the principal forms a committee tasked with reviewing the book, PISD Chief Academic Officer Nyla Watson said.
The principal then reports the findings to whoever reported the complaint, and the entire process should not take longer than 15 days, Watson said. Anyone in the district, such as a parent or a community or staff member, can file a complaint.
A complaint against a book can be made if it violates state penal codes. The original language did not include specific definitions to those violations, which the board also included.
The violations include harmful material, which is defined as any material that heavily appeals to a minor in sex, nudity or excretion; if it clearly offensive in the adult community; or if it is without redeeming social value for minors, according to state Penal Code 43.24.
Additionally, Trustee Kristofer Schoeffler said he wanted the board to include specifics on who the members on those committees will be.
The board included language that states each committee needs to include a district-level representative, who will serve as the chair of the committee; two parents; a district representative; and a campus representative.
The motion was unanimously passed by the board. PISD Superintendent Larry Berger said the district has not had any formal challenges regarding specific books to this date.